yes, the RIAA is being stupid about song theft, but ...

Theft is theft. Songs are intellectual property, just as are software programs, websites, photographs, artworks, books, broadcasts, and product designs. Downloading a song off the Internet that is not freely offered by the artist or the producer is theft--no two ways about it, no shades of gray.

And it's quite refreshing to see a university newspaper actually acknowledge this: Oregon Daily Emerald - Editorial staff shakes ass to downloads

... Some of us will admit that file sharing is theft but will quickly counter that it's OK. The recording industry is, after all, evil. Musical stars, too, have quite enough money, so they don't mind. Maybe the best one, though, is the argument that the Internet is here for the expression of free thought -- and by all means MP3s certainly fit that criterion.

Perhaps the recording industry is malicious. Today, don't you almost feel lucky to pick up a CD on sale for $14.99? After all, the suggested retail price seems to linger somewhere around $18.

Conversely, record sales are declining. Many say this slump has nothing to do with online trading; it's purely happenchance. Equally as coincidental as, say, Milli Vanilli losing all respectability after being shown for what they really were: two lookers with locks who couldn't sing a lick (but they sure could dance).

What college students don't understand is that downloading songs off the Internet is the same as walking into the local record store and lifting a couple of CDs. Music is intellectual property, and taking it without paying for it is theft. Yeah, maybe rock stars have a lot of money, but they damn well deserve it, as does anyone who makes and sells something ...

Since the targets of the RIAA subpoenas are engaging in an illegal activity, they have no more right to privacy than an idiot downloading and/or distributing kiddie porn or a cracker downloading or distributing pirated software. And the ISPs SHOULD turn over the names of thieves--but only after the sort of due process that any other information seeker would have to undergo. Blanket subpoenas issued via one court, signed off by a clerk and not a judge, outside of the jurisdiction of the ISP, is NOT the usual procedure.

So the RIAA should continue its assault on piracy, but it should follow the traditional rules. The ISPs are right to object to honoring subpoenas from outside courts.

This whole thing isn't about whether the RIAA is the Bad Guy going after the Innocent Student. It's about an industry going after thieves.

The RIAA could probably figure out a better way to do it, or a more-effective way to do it, but I don't know what that would be. Probably a public awareness campaign that isn't so blatantly stupid people tune it out.

Maybe the artists most affected could do something--if they care.

Maybe the RIAA should consider getting involved in digital distribution in ways that make it affordable and more attractive to those who would spend an hour looking for a song for free rather than paying $15 for a CD with 11 songs they don't want.

There must be a better way (given that it's probably too late to instill a sense of integrity in those who would steal songs and then rationalize that it was okay)--I just don't know what it is.
Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/12/03 at 07:42 PM
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